Sir: Douglas Hurd's speech on the future of aid (16 February) accuses the EU aid programme of being "diffuse" and "haphazard". In fact, "haphazard" could be the very word used to describe the Government's current aid policy.
First, the Government readily agreed to huge increases in aid to the EU at the 1992 EU Edinburgh summit, which it now claims it was forced into. These amount to around £350m, an increase of almost 70 per cent between 1993 and 1998. Now it is trying to claw back its commitment through the EU from 1998.
If the Government had so little regard for the EU aid programme, why did it agree to increase aid contributions through the EU in the first place?
British aid policy is now in complete disarray, and it will be the poorest countries that lose out in three ways. First, bilateral aid to Africa is being cut by 17 per cent in the three years from 1994/5 to 1996/7. Second, around half of the increases in British aid to the EU are going to the former Soviet bloc rather than to the world's poorest countries.
Lastly, the proposed cuts in EU aid in 1998 will hit the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries hardest.